The much-awaited list of ministerial nominees from President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday arrived the Senate.
The President, in his Independence Day speech , said he had sent the first batch of nominees to the Senate
However, it was gathered authoritatively last night that prominent on the list are: former Abia State governor, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former Anambra State governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his Lagos State counterpart, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State Sen. Aisha Alhassan, Senator Hadi Sirka, Suleiman Adamu, Sen. Udo Udoma and Hajia Amina Ibrahim.
These are among the 21 names in the list sent so far to the Senate.
Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who submitted the white envelope containing the list to Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, around 5 p.m., was accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang.
Saraki, however, refused to disclose to journalists of the missive.
“It is against parliamentary ethics for the Office of the President to disclose the contents of the communication from the President to journalists before disclosing it to the Senate. I can assure you that until Tuesday, the list would not be disclosed to the public,” an aide to the Senate President said yesterday.
There was scant information about persons who made the list at press time yesterday since Saraki insisted that he would not open the envelope until next Tuesday.
However, Saraki on his twitter handle later twitted that: “I can now confirm that I just received the list of ministerial nominees.”
It was gathered that Saraki had begun moves to ensure that senators give a smooth approval of the nominees.
Saraki had in an address to welcome senators from the six-week recess on Tuesday said: “I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us. Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness.”
Earlier during the session of the Senate on Tuesday, Saraki turned down efforts to influence the Senate into condemning the failure by Buhari to submit the list of his ministerial nominees as promised.
Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, on behalf of all Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators, had cited Section 14 of the Senate standing rule which dealt with matters of privileges of Senate and senators, drawing the attention of the Upper legislative Chamber to the fact that the failure to submit the list as promised had put the Senate under unnecessary pressure.
Akpabio said that the fact that Buhari had repeatedly stressed his readiness to submit the list of ministerial nominees before the end of September had put the Senate and senators under pressure arguing that Nigerians had been made to believe that the Senate was delaying the confirmation of the nominees.
He asked the Senate President to openly disclose to Nigerians whether or not the list had been sent to him by Buhari and and he (Saraki) was hoarding it.
But before the Senate President could respond, the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, swiftly rose in defence of Buhari, pointing out that although the President had promised to submit his list in September, it was still too early to condemn him because September 30th which is the last day of September would only end by 12.00 midnight , adding that the doors of the Senate were open till that time.
Saraki then upheld Na’Allah’s submission and ruled Akpabio out of order saying: “Thank you Leader of the Senate. I am sure the minority leader is satisfied with your explanation. So, I have to graciously rule my minority leader out of order.”
Ita-Enang was unwilling to comment on the issue when he was asked to confirm that the list had not been submitted to the Senate President.
Ita-Enang simply told reporters: “I am happy to receive you in my office, but I will not comment or grant interview on that matter. I hope you will understand, thank you.”
However, while addressing a press conference shortly after the Senate session and before the list of nominees was brought to Saraki, Senate spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye said: “Senate is still expecting the ministerial list and will communicate receipt of the list once it comes, adding that there was no need for agitation by Nigerians.
Melaye further disclosed that the Senate will begin consideration of all communications from the President from next week.
Also yesterday Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, had faulted the non-submission of the ministerial nominees’ list to the Senate, declaring that he was not disappointed because he had always known that the APC government was comfortable without ministers.
Ekweremadu, who spoke while submitting the report of the post election review committee to the leadership of the PDP later Wednesday, said: “I am not worried because I knew they would never be ready with the list on the 30th. So, I predicted what is going on. Because the APC seemed to be very comfortable ruling without the ministers which is an obvious breach of our Constitution because the framers of the Constitution envisaged government of unity.
And this can only happen through a cabinet, where you have ministers from all the states.”